In 1947, Gaetano Savini and Nazareno Fonticoli (trained at the Abruzzo school of tailoring) opened one of the first fashion houses for menswear and named it after the Croatian islands of Brijuni (pronounced Brioni), a glamorous golf and polo getaway populated by Italian and other European aristocrats in the 1920s and ‘30s. With a passion for perfection in a world ravaged by World War II, the partners set out to reinvent classic modes of menswear, which quickly became popular with the rich and the famous, even across the Atlantic.
Brioni’s specialty is the painstaking care the house takes to perfect each detail: buttonholes, lapels and pockets are just so, and not a millimeter of fabric is removed from where it should be. Brioni is also one of the few menswear houses that does a true bespoke (a term derived from English tailoring, meaning a length of fabric that was set aside as spoken for by a particular customer), a garment totally customized not only to an individual’s bodily proportions and taste, but even to his profession and his discreet, often unspoken needs.
Bespoke is totally different from made-to-measure; as Brioni ex-chairman Umberto Angeloni once explained, “Bespoke is where the suit is made from your measurements exclusively, from scratch. We still do this, in Milan and Rome. Everyone now says they do bespoke, but what they mean is made-to-measure. That is where an existing suit design is adapted to your shape.”
The people who craft Brioni products are trained at Brioni’s own schools; tailors are coached for four years before they are allowed to handle actual fabric for clients, and seamstresses must undergo two years of honing before they are permitted to punch a buttonhole. Brioni suits transform their wearers, subtly broadening their shoulders, tucking in their waists, and making men stand tall, molding their bodies according to the jacket — a distinctive attribute of Italian tailoring.
Brioni offers more than 5,000 exquisite fabrics to choose from, including but not limited to the finest super-spun wools and the best of silks and silk blends, cashmere and baby alpaca. The linings are as good as the surface fabric — Brioni uses cashmere and silk regularly. For those who travel long and often, lightweight, more resistant and wrinkle-free versions are available with special stretch fibers, of which a great example is Escorial, the first natural fiber to demonstrate stretch and wrinkle-resistant properties. Brioni has a patent for Escorial.
The house is not ubiquitous. It lends its name with caution and maintains a strictly in-house, hands-on, hushed production policy. Even when Brioni was the official designer for James Bond’s wardrobe in his movies from GoldenEye to Casino Royale, it did not do much to cash in on the advertising opportunity, other than crafting a series of exclusive £3,000 Bond-themed tuxedos that had “James Bond” stitched into their silver linings. These were available at select stores just before the release of Casino Royale.
Brioni has an exclusive clientele of approximately 25,000 privileged customers, who swear by the house’s perfectionism, intuitive grasp of customer needs and unobtrusive, unflaggingly patient service. Brioni is all about a sense of style, a style that is ageless and will remain a faithful and indispensable part of your wardrobe for years and years. A typical Brioni handmade suit would go through 10 hours of sewing by hand, 18 hours of fine craftsmanship for buttons and so on, and 42 stages of ironing. This is precisely why Brioni is never out of fashion — its eye toward perfection sets it apart.
Made to Measure
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